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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Carmakers Grapple With Lower Quality Due To Production Stoppages, Parts Shortages

The unpredictable situation surrounding automotive manufacturing has inevitably resulted in a dip in initial quality. This was revealed in the 2022 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study or IQS.

From 2021’s record high where J.D. Power saw a record low in new vehicle problems in the 36-year study of the U.S. market, 2022 saw an 18 percent uptick in problems per 100 new vehicles (PP100). The average is now 180 PP100 (180 problems per 100 vehicles)—18 PP100 worse than last year.

According to J.D. Power, they attribute the downtrend in quality down to the challenges experienced by automakers. They said, “In general, initial quality has shown steady improvement throughout the history of this study, so the decline this year is disappointing—yet understandable. Automakers continue to launch vehicles that are more and more technologically complex in an era in which there have been many shortages of critical components to support them.”

“Supply chain disruption, especially the shortage of microchips, has caused automakers to seek alternative solutions to get new vehicles into purchasers’ and lessees’ hands,” they continued. “In some cases, new vehicles are being shipped without some features installed. Communication with them about the changes in feature availability, as well as when such features will be reinstated, is critical to their satisfaction.”

The 2022 U.S. Initial Quality Study is based this year on responses from 84,165 purchasers and lessees of new 2022 model-year vehicles who were surveyed early in the ownership period. The study is based on a 223-question battery organized into nine vehicle categories: infotainment; features, controls and displays; exterior; driving assistance; interior; powertrain; seats; driving experience; and climate. The study is designed to provide manufacturers with information to facilitate the identification of problems and to drive product improvement. The study was fielded from February through May 2022.

Both all-new and continuing models increase in problems this year, though all-new models worsen the most (23 PP100). The initial quality gap between all-new and continuing models widens this year to 25 PP100 from 20 PP100 in 2021. The 2022 study finds four times as many new models performing worse than their segment averages compared with those that perform better than their segment averages.

Meanwhile, mass market vehicles experience fewer problems than premium vehicles (175 PP100 versus 196 PP100). Premium brand buyers typically purchase more technology in their vehicles, and the added complexity of that tech increases the likelihood of problems. Given the challenging task of launching new vehicles in the current environment, mass market carryover vehicles are most likely to achieve high-ranking initial quality. Owners of premium-brand vehicles experience more problems than mass market vehicle owners, continuing a trend that started in 2016. Only two brands—Hyundai’s Genesis and Toyota’s Lexus bucks the trend.

When it comes to the most problematic area, infotainment systems remain the most problematic area which an average of 45 PP100—19.5 PP100 more than the next-highest category. Six of the top 10 problem areas in the study are infotainment-related, including: Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity (5.8 PP100); built-in voice recognition (4.0 PP100); difficulties with touchscreens/display screens (3.5 PP100); built-in Bluetooth systems (3.4 PP100); not enough power plugs/USB ports (2.9 PP100); and inconsistent audio volume (2.7 PP100).

As for powertrains, battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) tend to be more problematic. Owners of BEVs and PHEVs cite more problems with their vehicles than do owners of vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE). ICE vehicles average 175 PP100, PHEVs average 239 PP100 and BEVs—excluding Tesla models—average 240 PP100. (Tesla models average 226 PP100 and are shown separate from the BEV average because the predominance of Tesla vehicles could obscure the performance of the legacy automakers that have recently introduced BEVs.)

When it comes to brands, Buick is the highest-ranking brand (139 PP100) followed by Dodge (143 PP100) and Chevrolet (147 PP100). Genesis, meanwhile, leads the Premium segment (156 PP100) followed by Lexus (157 PP100), and Cadillac (163 PP100).

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